When is EEG indicated for bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness)?

Updated: May 30, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Generally, routine electroencephalography (EEG) is unnecessary in the evaluation of bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness (MDI). However, some reasons for ordering EEG in patients with bipolar illness may be appropriate and include the following:

  • EEG provides a baseline and helps to rule out any neurologic problems; use this test to rule out a seizure disorder and brain tumor

  • If electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is contemplated, an EEG may be helpful; EEG monitoring during ECT is used to determine the occurrence and duration of seizure

  • Some studies have shown that abnormalities in EEG findings have been indicative of anticonvulsant effectiveness; specifically, an abnormal EEG finding may predict the response to valproate

  • Some patients may have seizures when on medications, especially antidepressants; in addition, lithium can cause diffuse slowing throughout the brain

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